Rickie Tharp II Claims National Crown

Rickie Tharp II took the lead with three laps remaining to claim the 74th running of the Pay Less Supermarket National Crown presented by Tom Wood Honda at Anderson Speedway. Tharp joined his father, Rickie, the 2022 winner of the National Crown, and his Uncle Josh, the 2011 champion. Tharp came from a lap down and had to charge through the field several times after setting fast time during qualifying, but it was a late race restart that put him in the position to win. Randy Hoppes took the lead for the second time on lap 31 when Tharp spun and second place running Elliott McKinney was forced to slow to avoid a wreck. Tharp was relegated to the tail of the field and within nine laps had climbed to the second spot but didn’t appear to have enough to pass Hoppes for the win. The sixth caution flag waved on lap 47 when Curtis Chapman made contact with the turn three wall. On the restart Hoppes elected to start on the outside and gave Tharp the preferred inside racing line. Tharp took the lead on the restart winning by 1.2-seconds over Hoppes with Randy Owens, 14-year-old Colson Gray coming home fourth and Ricky Craig rounding out the top five.

“We definitely had a fast car,” Tharp said in the Peterman Brothers Victory Lane. “I kind of lucked out, but we worked our hearts out this week to prepare.” Tharp said he was surprised that Hoppes gave him the inside line on the final restart.

Hoppes said it was the closest he has come to winning the National Crown. “That last caution killed me,” he said. “I think I could have held him (Tharp) off behind me, but I knew that car was fast.” Hoppes said he did get break early in the race when he spun, and the caution came out on lap 11 when four cars got together in the crossover. The incident collected the cars of Matt Tharp, Matthew Benzenbower, Ryan Krugler and Timmy Perkins. The early lead was taken by Michael Pitts, who pitted during the lap 11 red flag stoppage of the race. Hoppes led until lap 29 when Rickie Tharp II and McKinney got underneath in traffic.

Jeff Marcum won for the fifth time this season in the McGunegill Engine Performance Late Models taking the lead from Danny Trent on the sixth lap. Trent finished second followed by Jason Powers. Ohio driver Alec Young captured the Marcum’s Welding Front Wheel Drive feature holding off Dylan Hoppes by a half-second.